Ludvig Munk

1537-1602
This man is a good example that being ruled by foreign powers can also be misrule!
Ludvig Munk was born in Denmark, and participated in the Nordic Seven-Years’ War (1563-70) on land and on sea. He was wounded and imprisoned. Such dedicated service is often followed by a reward. After a period as royal household marshal, in 1571 Munk was appointed as feudal lord in Trondheim, including Jämtland and Härjedalen. Here he resided in the Royal Palace, and soon became unpopular due to his harsh administration methods. He enforced illegal injunctions and unreasonable fines. After a conflict he had five farmers from Gauldal executed for alleged incitement to rebellion.
In 1577 Munk was promoted to Vice Regent with his residence at Akershus Fortress in Oslo. He could not keep his hands clean here either, and was dismissed in 1583. After a period with less lucrative jobs, he returned to Trondheim in his old position in 1589. The same year he married the Swedish Ellen Marsvin (The name means guinea pig!), who was 35 years younger than her husband.
Even for King Christian IV it now became clear that he had a representative who did not serve him well, a person who was not worthy of royal favours. Farmers who lived far from the Royal Palace were ordered to spend long sessions haying there. This kept them away from their own farming for long periods of time. Furthermore, they were forced to cut and bark timber to be taken to the Lord. The product was not used to maintain buildings, rather everything went straight into Munk's own business pocket. Letters of complaint uncovered many dark sides of his rule, and his unscrupulous rough behaviour. Munk was fined and forced to retire in 1596 to his manor in Denmark. He died in 1602.
However, the reputation of this man is not entirely black. In Trondheim he left funds for two foundations. The so-called "Ludvigspengene" [Ludvig's money] was distributed to the poor for several hundred years!
Recommended reading: Norsk biografisk leksikon [Norwegian biographic encyclopaedia], volume IX. Aschehoug, 1940.

Author: Einar Rædergård